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DoD program reaches out to AF families with special needs

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- "We've become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Because the military is a cross-section of America, this is also true of servicemembers and their families.

With this ideal in mind, the Department of Defense put together programs like the Exceptional Family Member Program.

The EFMP is a DoD umbrella program that encompasses the Air Force specific Special Needs Identification Assignments Coordination Program.

The SNIAC program provides special assignment consideration to Air Force members who have a spouse, child or dependent adult with medical conditions requiring prolonged hospitalization or out-patient treatment and sends them to bases that are near medical, educational or other resources suitable to treat the family member, according to the Military Home Front Web site.

When it comes to figuring out enrollment eligibility, the answer is simple - those who fit the criteria must enroll.

"Enrollment is not an option," said Airman 1st Class Lady Renee Consolacion, 30th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician. "All members with family members that have specials needs are mandated by the Air Force to enroll in the program."

In order to be eligible for the program the member must have a potentially life threatening condition and/or chronic medical or physical condition requiring intensive follow-up support or sub-specialty care, or a chronic mental health condition, according to Vandenberg's mental health flight.

Eligible conditions may be but are not limited to high risk newborns, patients with a diagnosis of cancer within the last five years, sickle cell disease, insulin dependent diabetes, bi-polar disorder, conduct disorder, major affective disorder, and thought or personality disorders, said Airman Consolacion.

Not only is this program beneficial for the Air Force member, it's essential to the dependant so that they can receive the best care.

"This program is put in place to ensure that services are available at whatever base the member will be reassigned to," said Airman Consolacion. "If a family relocates to a base where the services their special needs member requires are not available, they're more likely going to get reassigned and or sent back to their old base, which would cost a lot of money for the AF as well as great inconvenience for the family."

This mandatory program prevents hiccups like that, as well as provides continuity and support wherever the member relocates to.

"Having a special needs member can be really stressful, especially if the base and the local area only offer limited services," said Airman Consolacion. "This program offers support to their families by aiding them in finding the resources they need."

For more information on SNIAC, call Ms. Masayo Hanyuda, Tricare Operations and Patient Administration, at 606-1721.